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Allied Riser expands fiber-optic network

The communications service provider begins construction of fiber-optic networks in 16 new markets, broadening the company's reach and sending its shares higher.

Allied Riser Communications began construction of fiber-optic networks today in 16 new markets, broadening the company's reach and sending its shares higher.

Stock in Allied Riser gained more than 16 percent to $11.75 by market close today. Shares have traded as high as $48.75 and as low as $9 and have remained depressed since March with the broader markets.

The company is expanding in several major and secondary metropolitan markets including Pittsburgh, Orlando, St. Louis and Cincinnati, among others, giving Allied Riser access to more than 13 million square feet of new office space.

Allied Riser is one of a handful of communications service providers serving the so-called multitenant unit (MTU) market. Companies such as Allied Riser, Broadband Office, Urban Media, Cypress Communications, Brix Communications and many others are scrambling to sign deals with large real estate companies and property management firms in order to gain access to their commercial rental properties. The companies want to be first with property owner partners so they can sign semi-exclusive deals or be the first or preferred communications service provider.

The communications companies, sometimes referred to as "on-site service providers," wire high-rise office buildings and business parks for high-speed Internet access, voice communications and other services. By primarily serving major business customers in large cities, Allied Riser and the rest stake out the best customers: businesses with deep pockets and high communications usage. Property management firms have cooperated to offer high-speed Internet access as an amenity to attract tenants, and sometimes the landlords get a cut of the profits.

Allied Riser also will expand into Birmingham, Ala.; Central New Jersey; Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Harrison, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del.

The company, which already has completed networks in buildings representing 160 million square feet of office space, expects to complete the recently announced construction plans before the end of the second quarter.